Updated Nov 3, 2022
Your responsibility as a homeowner is to keep your space in tip-top shape. That means ensuring your appliances, systems, and structural components operate safely and efficiently.
Luckily, there are several common red flags you can look for when assessing your home’s functionality. These telltale signs indicate that things may need repairs or replacements. Some are minor DIY fixes, while others are major problems that call for professional assistance.
If the task of inspecting your home for problems overwhelms you, we’ve got you covered. This article sheds light on 10 common red flags to look out for around your home.
Sagging areas atop your home may signify that you need a new roof. According to Findlay Roofing, sagging points to a roof problem that needs immediate fixing.
If you notice your roof looking a little limp, conduct some further inspection to find the source of the problem. Your roof may be sagging due to:
If you notice odd coloring around an electrical outlet in your home, it’s time for a replacement. This problem isn’t just an eyesore – it’s also a serious safety hazard. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, nearly 50,000 home fires in the U.S. result from overloaded electrical receptacles.
Discoloration around electrical outlets is a major red flag that components are overheating. If you notice melting or burn-like marks around the area, stop using the outlet and call an electrician immediately. You’re likely seeing signs of a short circuit, which is highly prone to igniting.
Unless you have electrical expertise, you should leave this repair job to the pros. Working with your home’s electrical system without the proper skills and equipment puts you at risk for shocks, burns, and fires.
While inspecting the exterior of your home, you may notice hairline cracks snaking through the brick, stone, or concrete. These fine cracks result from normal wear and are usually nothing to fret over. However, large, zigzagging cracks may point to structural problems. Similar fractures on interior drywall are another sign of foundation cracks.
Look closely at the foundation if you notice cracks in your home’s interior or exterior walls. Complete Basement Systems provides red flags to look for when inspecting your home’s foundation:
Warped shingles on your roof may indicate that your attic isn’t getting enough ventilation. Moist, hot air from inside your home rises to the top and accumulates underneath the roofing. This stuffy, humid environment curls the shingles and creates a breeding ground for mildew. The problem may present itself as a roof leak, but the moisture is actually coming from within the house.
The best way to solve this problem is to improve attic ventilation and replace damaged shingles. We suggest hiring a roofing professional to inspect the area and determine the best course of action. If the entire roof is old and warped, it’s likely time for a full replacement.
Once your roof returns to working condition, install vents or a fan system to keep your attic from overheating.
Rusty water pouring from your faucets is a telltale sign of plumbing problems. If the rust pours out only when you turn on the hot water, you’re likely looking at a water heater break. Water heaters are designed for corrosion resistance, but the damage is still possible.
If the heater’s internal components crack from sediment buildup, water will continuously wash over the metal parts, eventually developing rust. Unfortunately, this issue doesn’t have a simple fix. Modern Plumbing Industries, Inc. suggests that corrosion almost always indicates a need for water heater replacement.
If rusting affects a water heater over 15 years old, you should skip the repairs and move straight to a replacement. You can schedule routine maintenance services for younger models to keep the systems running smoothly and efficiently for years.
If your fresh food spoils faster than usual, you might need a new refrigerator. This problem likely means that your refrigerator isn’t providing low enough temperatures to keep the food fresh. Other telltale signs of temperature issues include mold growth, condensation inside the fridge drawers, warm beverages, and high energy bills.
Temperature issues occur when a refrigerator’s compressor is broken. The compressor is a vital component that circulates cool air throughout the system, keeping your items chilled and preserved. Luckily, compressor issues can often be solved with repairs instead of full replacements. However, if the component is broken beyond repair, consider your cost options. Compressor replacements can cost up to $500, so you may be better off replacing your whole fridge with an upgraded model.
Water drops or puddles around your air conditioning unit could stem from various culprits, but they all likely mean your HVAC system needs repairs.
Excess condensation may point to a refrigerant leak. This is a serious problem because freon, a cooling component used in older AC systems, is highly toxic. If the moisture buildup accompanies a funky odor, call an HVAC professional immediately to look for a freon leak.
AC condensation could also signify a clogged drainage duct. These tubes typically dispose of moisture collected from the air but can become blocked with buildup over time. Drainage duct leaks require patches or individual part replacements to prevent moisture from escaping.
Squeaky hardwood floorboards are normal to some extent, but your floor shouldn’t move as you walk over it. If your home’s floorboards develop gaps that widen and shift under pressure, it’s time to replace them.
Shifty floorboards might point to a compromise in the floor’s structural integrity. This issue can result from worn joists or something more intense like subfloor termite infestation. In either case, you should call in a flooring specialist to take a closer look. While some flooring problems can be buffed away with a glossy refinish, shifty boards aren’t one of them.
If the floorboards haven’t developed gaps but instead have spongy, soft patches, they may be suffering from water damage. This damage may also cause warping, water stains, or discoloration. If the floor seems spongy and sinks under weight, you probably have a moisture problem in the subfloor, which calls for a full replacement.
Smelling smoke around your home may indicate an electrical problem you don’t want to ignore. The main component of your home’s electrical system is the breaker box, the central hub for your home’s circuit breakers. Breakers control and manage how electricity flows throughout your home. Call an electrician immediately if you ever notice a burning smell around this system.
A smokey smell around your breaker box may signal that the box is overheating. Breaker boxes are designed to flip off when overloaded with power – a safety feature that prevents excess heat and electrical fires. If this feature isn’t working properly, your home is at a higher risk of fire.
Water pooling around the base of your home may indicate that your gutters aren’t working properly. Gutters channel rainwater away from your home to minimize erosion around the foundation. If they’re clogged or broken, they’ll be unable to distribute the water and instead pour it straight into the ground.
Along with standing water, you might also notice your gutters sagging or bowing away from the roof. If the weight of captured debris becomes too much, the gutters could tear away and cause roof damage.
There are a couple of ways to solve gutter issues affecting your home:
You aren’t getting the most out of your home without properly functioning appliances and systems. When your home’s systems and appliances wear out or break, they don’t operate efficiently, resulting in poor performance and higher energy bills. Likewise, a machine that continues operating while broken is likely to develop more serious problems, leading to expensive repairs and replacement costs down the road.
Another critical reason to keep your home in good shape is to improve its resale value. If and when you put your home on the market, your home inspector and realtor will look for signs of wear and tear, neglect, and damages. If they discover your home systems aren’t up to par, your house will appraise for less and be less likely to sell.
If you market your property with an open house, potential homebuyers will perform a home inspection of their own, nitpicking every square inch of the space for deal breakers. Having everything in optimal condition is crucial before candidates step foot through the door.
A home warranty may be worthwhile if you’re putting off home repairs and replacements because of cost. A home warranty plan covers costly home repairs for a set monthly fee. These contracts only cover normal wear and tear of home systems and appliances, so they’re perfect for homeowners looking to budget for the inevitable.
When a repair need arises, you place a request, and a certified technician comes to assess the problem. You’ll pay a $60-$125 per-service fee in addition to your $600-$700 annual premium. These costs may seem high, but they’re far more affordable than replacing an appliance or home system out of pocket.
Now that you know the red flags to look for around your home, you’re on your way to more responsible homeownership. Remember that keeping your systems and appliances in good shape is crucial to your home’s resale value and curb appeal.
If you’re concerned about your ability to afford inevitable mishaps, consider purchasing a home warranty plan for coverage of costly repairs. You’ll have the peace of mind to handle any service needs that come your way.
Other Home Warranty Resources